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  A Bicycle Evangelist With the Wind Now at His Back
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ContributorArmyDem 
Last EditedArmyDem  Jan 13, 2009 10:02pm
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CategoryNews
MediaNewspaper - New York Times
News DateTuesday, January 13, 2009 04:00:00 AM UTC0:0
DescriptionBy CORNELIA DEAN
Published: January 12, 2009

PORTLAND, Ore. — For years, Earl Blumenauer has been on a mission, and now his work is paying off. He can tell by the way some things are deteriorating around here.

“People are flying through stop signs on bikes,” Mr. Blumenauer said. “We are seeing in Portland bike congestion. You’ll see people biking across the river on a pedestrian bridge. They are just chock-a-block.”

Mr. Blumenauer, a passionate advocate of cycling as a remedy for everything from climate change to obesity, represents most of Portland in Congress, where he is the founder and proprietor of the 180 (plus or minus)-member Congressional Bicycle Caucus. Long regarded in some quarters as quixotic, the caucus has come into its own as hard times, climate concerns, gyrating gas prices and worries about fitness turn people away from their cars and toward their bikes.

“We have been flogging this bicycle thing for 20 years,” said Mr. Blumenauer, a Democrat. “All of a sudden it’s hot.”

But Mr. Blumenauer’s goals are larger than putting Americans on two wheels. He seeks to create what he calls a more sustainable society, including wiser use of energy, farming that improves the land rather than degrades it, an end to taxpayer subsidies for unwise development — and a transportation infrastructure that looks beyond the car.

For him, the global financial collapse is “perhaps the best opportunity we will ever see” to build environmental sustainability into the nation’s infrastructure, with urban streetcar systems, bike and pedestrian paths, more efficient energy transmission and conversion of the federal government’s 600,000-vehicle fleet to use alternate fuels.
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